Mountjoy Square, one of five Georgian squares in Dublin, Ireland, lies on the north side of the city just under a kilometre from the River Liffey. Planned and developed in the late 18th century by the second Luke Gardiner, then Viscount Mountjoy, the square is surrounded on all sides by individual terraced, red-brick Georgian houses. Construction began in the early 1790s and the work was completed in 1818.
Over the centuries, the square has been home to many of Dublin's most prominent people: lawyers, churchmen, politicians, writers and visual artists. The writer James Joyce lived around the square during some of his formative years, playwright Séan O'Casey wrote and set some of his most famous plays on the square while living there, W.B. Yeats stayed there with his friend John O'Leary, and more recently, much of the Oscar-winning film Once was made in the square. Historic meetings have taken place there, including planning for the Easter Rising and some of the earliest Dáil meetings. Prominent Irish Unionists and Republicans have shared the square.
Mountjoy can boast being Dublin's only true Georgian square, each of its sides being exactly 140 metres in length. While the North, East and West sides each have 18 houses, the South has 19, reflecting some variation in plot sizes. Though each side was originally numbered individually, the houses are now numbered continuously clockwise from no. 1 in the north-west corner. While its North and South sides are continuous from corner to corner, the East and West sides are in three terraces, interrupted by two side streets, Grenville Street and Gardiner Place to the West and Fitzgibbon and North Great Charles Street to the East. Gardiner Street passes through the West side of the square, while Belvidere Place and Gardiner Lane run off the North- and South-East corners.
Although some of the original buildings fell to ruin over the 20th century, replicas have been built in their place, so the square still maintains its consistent Georgian façade.
Mountjoy Square has had many famous inhabitants throughout its history. The earliest was Arthur Guinness, who died there in January 1803. Subsequently his descendant Desmond Guinness and first wife Mariga, attempted to save and restore the gracious character of the square in 1966-75, buying No. 50 and several demolished lots with members of the Irish Georgian Society.
Seán O'Casey, the Irish playwright and founder member of the Irish Citizen Army, lived in a tenement in no. 35 Mountjoy Square, during the Irish War of Independence. During his time there, it is said that the house was raided by the Black and Tans.
John O'Leary, a leading Fenian, poet, editor of The Irish People, mentioned in W.B. Yeats' poem September 1913, lived at no. 53 Mountjoy Square West in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Indeed Yeats, as a friend of O'Leary is known to have stayed at 53 Mountjoy Square and sent letters from there
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